Universal reacts to Cineworld and Odeon's decision to no longer show its films once lockdown ends

Cinema chains are potentially boycotting the new Jurassic World and Fast & Furious films

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 01 May 2020 08:03
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Universal has responded to Cineworld and Odeon’s decision to reject new films made by the studio.

The cinema chains announced the move after the studio decided to release Trolls World Tour at home because of coronavirus.

The Trolls sequel, which was released on 10 April, has since made an estimated $100m in North America alone.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell went on to tell the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday (28 April) that even after cinemas reopened, the company would keep releasing films in both formats, which prompted a backlash from AMC Theatres and Cineworld.

Now, Shell has doubled down on his stance, telling Variety that home releases will be a part of the studio’s business model from here on out.

“The question is, when we come out of this, what is going to be the model? I would expect that consumers will return to theatres and we will be part of that,” he said.

“I also would expect PVOD is going be part of that offering in some way. It’s not going to be a replacement, but it will be a complementary element and we’re just going to have to see how long that takes and where it takes us.”

Following Shell’s initial comments, which AMC Theatres branded “unacceptable”, Cineworld said: “Our policy with respect to the window is clear, well known in the industry and is part of our commercial deal with our movie suppliers. We invest heavily in our cinemas across the globe and this allows the movie studios to provide customers all around the world to watch the movies in the best experience. There is no argument that the big screen is the best way to watch a movie.

“Universal unilaterally chose to break our understanding and did so at the height of the Covid-19 crisis when our business is closed, more than 35,000 employees are at home and when we do not yet have a clear date for the reopening of our cinemas.”

“Today we make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us. We have full confidence in the industry’s current business model. No one should forget that the theatrical side of this industry generated an all-time record income of $42b last year and the movie distributors’ share of this was about $20b.”

Universal is the studio that distributes the Fast and Furious, Jurassic World and Halloween franchises. Cineworld’s decision means it will not be showing any future films from these series if they’re also released at home.

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